Richard St George & Roger Kelly: Ecoville 2000 talks now online

High Quality audio with Roger and now sadly passed away director of the Shumacher Society Richard St George on one of Britain’s greatest ever Ecovillage design concepts
If the govt. was any good they’d have picked up on this

UK 2000 person autonomous ecovillage design

Who knows – perhaps someday someone will?

Roger Kelly HQ edited 00:49:40 128Kbps mp3
(47MB) Stereo

Schumacher socs Richard St George – on Ecoville 00:05:45 128Kbps mp3
(5MB) Stereo

UK 2000 person autonomous ecovillage design
Series: Bristol Broadband Co-operative 
Subtitle: Ecoville 2000 was a brilliant ecovillage design squashed by the UK government
Program Type: Weekly Program
Featured Speakers/Commentators: Roger Kelly former director of Machynlleth’s Centre for
Contributor: Bristol Broadband Co-operative  [Contact Contributor]
Broadcast Restrictions: For non-profit use only.
Credits: Ecoville 2000 was a giant ecovillage project developed at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales in the 1990s. Roger was director of CAT and one of the project leaders.
Notes: Ecovillage 2000 was the brainchild of two men at the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth.
Roger Kelly was a pioneer of Housing Associations in the 1970’s. As director of Solon South-West he built and managed thousands of homes. Roger then moved to Wales, becoming director of CAT in 1988. Richard St. George was intent on putting the ideas of E.F. Schumacher into practice. Small is Beautiful, for Richard, marked the coming of age of the green movement. Specifically his emphasis on researching, designing and building the alternatives.
Richard and Roger had both been racking their brains over a dilemma. Small were acting as beautiful beacons for future sustainable development, but pioneering communities needed to be bigger to compete with the outside economy. The question was just how big?
The fundamental test of a community’s viability, Richard argued, is its ability to retain its teenagers and to enable people of all ages to to share positions of responsibility. strike a balance with everyone sharing the community’s positions of responsibility. So many times with Intentional Communities young people decided it wasn’t for them so many of them fled the nest after a generation or so they died out through being abandoned by their young people. What would keep them there would be a standard of living as good or better than the best civilisation has to offer combined with a real independent spirit
In the winter of 1994 Richard woke one morning to find himself snowed in. It looked like it might be several days until he found his way into work at CAT. A great time, he decided, to bite the bullet. Richard sat down and listed every service that we might expect in any civilised community: doctor, farmer, teacher, mechanic, builder, plumber, carpenter, printer, IT fixer, and the list went on… and on… and on.
Eventually it ran to over 220 roles under eleven headings, with a job description for each role. Agricultural; crafts; arts; sports; estate management; services; health; educational; commercial; technical and industrial. Over succeeding days for the two weeks he was snowed in, he worked out how many people, considering holidays, training, sickness, shift work, etc. would be need in each of these key roles. Children and the elderly would not be expected to do any work of course. He came up with a figure of each role needing from between one and 25 people to fill it.
[picture of ecoville house design] Meanwhile Roger was working on designs for the Ecohomes. Through his experience with the pitfalls of building social housing he decided on several constraints. Each family house would have an allotment sized portion of land immediately attached to it. Evidence in our cities is that if people have allotments adjacent they use them. But the price of urban land makes that very difficult to realise. Ecoville’s good sized gardens were for the family to use for growing, grazing or recreational space.
Then there was the density of housing. Roger knew that people tend to like living close to other families but not close to too many. He settled on ideal huddle of ten to twenty houses fairly close together, with the clusters being up to a kilometre from the village centre.
Each housing cluster would include individual houses (1), most with attached workshops; a building with communal facilities (2) such as a laundry, meeting room, boiler house or store for shared tools and equipment; and an area of horticultural land (3), providing principally for the residents’ own needs but also selling surplus produce.
The core of the design was the village centre – the existing farmhouse, outhouses and semi-derelict buildings (1-4). These fulfilled a dual function as accommodation for self-builders as the project was being constructed as well as fulfilling an ultimate function, with the addition of some new buildings (5) forming a central village square. Finally the village centre would contain workshops, an exhibition space, a café/bar and a small shop.
The acreage needed for the entire project would depend on what figure Richard came up with for the minimum viable population.
As snowbound Richard worked his figures through it became clear the figure would be higher than either of them had thought. When Richard eventually arrived for work at CAT he announced the magic number: two thousand. After totting up all the roles Richard looked at all the different reasons why a resident would not be able to fulfil that role. 25% were children, 10% elderly or infirm, 10% drop out, 10% away at university etc., 5% nursing mothers, 5% dad’s on paternity leave, 5% on holidays, sabbaticals and secondments leaving only 30% of residents as a workforce. This brought the number of roles needed, around 600 up to a figure of around 1000 total residents.
Under this figure residents were likely to have too much responsibility, Richard felt. Over 2000 would be too many for everyone to feel enfranchised. Once they were clear about the overall scale they started drawing up criteria, starting with water needs, with which to identify potential sites. 
The response from UK planning authorities was almost universally negative. No British local authorities would consider seriously allowing permission for Ecovillage 2000 in their patch so, rather than let planning constraints and land values kill the project, in 1997 they decided to focus their efforts abroad.
[map of the site in france] Eventually the team decided the best bet was to build it on a site in France with a highly supportive local authority. A farmer’s son who owned the site had no-one to take on his farm and wanted to retire, sell up. Ecovillage 2000 became Ecoville 2000. 
This was a mostly wooded site of several hundred hectares at Versels, Causse de Sauveterre in the Canton of Le Massegros, near where Roquefort cheese is produced. Here, the French government funded much of the Ecoville feasibility study which – 18 months after they first set foot on the land – cleared the way for planning permission to be granted. At this point the tale sadly ends, the farmer’s son changed his mind and his father decided not to sell the land.

Scottish Land Action Movement


Questions or ideas? Please get in touch! Our email is


1. A land information system
Currently only 26% of Scotland’s land is registered in the land register. To find out who owns what, we demand a mandatory system that is up to date and available to the public. 

2. A Land-Value Rating (LVT)
There is no taxation on just land itself. We demand a move towards a more progressive tax, that takes into account the value and use of the land. 

3. A cap on the amount of land any one private individual or beneficial interest is eligible to own 
Huge private estates leave the land empty and barren. We would like them community-owned or broken up through the establishment of a National Land Policy, and updated laws of succession.

4. Greater powers for communities to buy and own land 
Statutory rights of: registration of interest in land, pre-emption over land, and a right to buy land through a compulsory purchase order where there is a clear benefit to the community, both urban and rural.

5. Security for tenants in rented accommodation 
How we live on the land affects us all – secure tenancies for private renters ensure communities can flourish.

6. A robust self-build sector
We believe incentives to self-build homes can offer alternatives to current housing schemes and strengthen communities.

7. Rights for tenant farmers
Tenant farmers currently have very little security over their tenancies, leaving them vulnerable to huge rent increases and evictions. We demand protective legislation and an inquiry into an optional automatic right to buy.

8. Hutting
Hutting should be encouraged and facilitated by landowners and planning authorities to encourage rural leisure.

9. Greater governmental aid
Establish a distinct governmental unit that will facilitate community buyouts, advise ministers, and provide support services. Increase the Land Fund. 

10. Common Good lands
We demand that Common Good Lands be safeguarded, their management be democratic and modern, and information regarding Common Good lands and funds be readily available and up to date.

Look at our political structures, our economy, and our land, and you’ll find a fundamental lack of democracy. 

Our focus is land.  Who owns Scotland?  Very few.  Just 432 landowners have 50% of the privately owned land.  That’s a mere 0.008% of the population.

The causes for this extraordinary situation go back centuries – feudalism was only abolished in Scotland a decade ago – but the concentration of land ownership has actually increased in the last 50 years. 

The early years of the Scottish Parliament brought tentative progress in the form of the 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act; this legislation, with the provision of a Land Fund, encouraged a series of community buy-outs in rural areas.  These have shown how extraordinarily successful communities can be when they manage their own affairs; producing off-grid electricity, increasing tourism, boosting local jobs… developments essential to stop the disastrous trend of rural depopulation. 

But the case for much bolder, wider-reaching land reform never went away.  It was heard frequently during the referendum debate; increasingly recognised as a central issue for those calling for social justice, democracy and equality in Scotland. 

This isn’t just a rural issue.  Land reform in Scotland has its roots in the struggles of the 1800s to oppose clearances and establish crofters’ rights – but now it is much broader.  Soaring land values and monopoly control are what drive housing shortages, deprivation, urban blight.  Our city centres are full of half-empty hotels, stalled developments, overpriced and ugly student housing. 

Meanwhile rural communities decline further under – often absent – landowners; and vast swathes of the Highlands are set aside as playgrounds for the world’s richest, with troubling ecological and social consequences. This is an issue that affects everyone.

The Scottish Land Action Movement is a collective of activists all striving for the same goal – to deliver comprehensive and radical land reform in Scotland by 2016.



We are a collective of activists all striving for the same goal – to deliver comprehensive and radical land reform in Scotland by 2016.
We believe that people-powered campaigning is the best way to do this. We have the backing of prominent researchers, journalists, activists and even politicians to help us reach our goal. However, it is the power of collective democracy that has founded this movement. Post-referendum Scotland is a place brimming full of passion and ideas – we believe there has never been a better time to fight for land reform, and with the support of a politicised nation, we can create a fairer and more just Scotland.

Our aim is simple – get enough people talking about our message, and change will happen.

We plan to provide a cohesive network for activists and campaign groups from all over the country to come together and learn from each other. We have a library of resources of all varieties so people can educate themselves on the topic of land reform, reaching far beyond just lairds in their castles. Land reform is just as important to communities in central Glasgow as it is to communities in the Western Isles, and the more knowledge we have about these issues, the more power we can wield in affecting change. 

If you would like to set up a campaign or group, we will help you in whatever way we can with the resources at our disposal. 

If you would like to contribute to our movement, our blog will be showcasing stories of communities in action, of campaigns, and examples of community ownership successes. Even just telling us why you think land reform is important – we want to hear from you!

Over the coming months we will be setting up petitions and meetings – please follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to receive up-to-date information.

Questions or ideas? Please get in touch! Our email is

Bristol tree camp eviction threatened

Message received today from Bristol treesitters…

The Bristol tree camp to stop the planned metrobus road is being taken to court today so the council can get a permission order to evict the camp, we assuming from Thursday onwards. See post on camp website below.

The camp is occupying two smallholding which people would like to start farming if we are not evicted.

Any support you can give would be great or come and visit.

Monkton Wyld Family Fun this halfterm – February 19+20 2015

Thursday 19th Feb, 2-4pm
Friday 20th Feb, 10-1pm
Lunch (optional) 1-2pm both days
Age 4+
Making, playing and exploring together in the beautiful surroundings of Monkton Wyld Court. Activities will be tailored to the weather so we can’t tell you what they will be yet but forest-school trained workshop leader Polly never fails to disappoint!
Activities: £6.50 per child
Lunch: £3.50 per child, £8 per adult.
Booking Essential 01297 560 34201297 560 342 or